Biotech And Agribusinesses Spending Heavily To Defeat State GMO Food Labeling Votes

Biotech And Agribusinesses Spending Heavily To Defeat State GMO Food Labeling Votes | right-to-know-gmo-labeling-460x231 | Business Economy & Business GMOs Organic Market Classifieds

By: Cornucopia

The Cornucopia Institute releases shopper’s guide red-flagging pro/con food brands involved with Colorado and Oregon Initiatives    [Contribution data will be updated on a weekly or bi-weekly basis until election day, and a final poster will be published in early December.]

UPDATED AGAIN  10-8-14:  Kellogg drops $250K against GMO food labeling + other contribution updates to the YES and NO positions.

UPDATE 10-2-14:  Cornucopia’s GMO food labeling infographic has been updated and now includes the contributions made to the Oregon Right to Know committee, which was organized to help get Measure 92 on the ballot. (Information on contributions for petition gathering are listed separately by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office and were not previously included.)  This update also includes significant additional contributions reported over the last couple days to both the Vote Yes on Measure 92 committee in Oregon, and the Right to Know Colorado committee.  Stay tuned for additional revisions of this infographic based on campaign finance reporting deadlines in Oregon and Colorado!

For a larger, easier to view version of the infographic please click on the image. Once downloaded (please be patient) you can click a second time to enlarge that further. A high-resolution file, suitable for enlargement and printing, can be found at the linked pdf below the graphic image.

Cornucopia, WI: Citizen initiatives on the November 4 ballots in both Colorado and Oregon would mandate clear labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on food packages. The pending votes have sparked a high-priced battleground pitting consumer and farmer advocates against multi-billion-dollar agribusiness corporations.

Opposition to the state food labeling measures is coming from giant biotech companies (DuPont, Dow and Monsanto), that sell genetically engineered crops, and the well-heeled Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a national business lobbying organization. Millions of dollars are being spent on the two campaigns with advertising blitzes underway.

Now The Cornucopia Institute has released a detailed infographic that reveals which food companies are supporting or opposing the food labeling initiatives (with many of the major manufacturers opposing passage owning leading brands in the natural/organic marketplace).

Biotech And Agribusinesses Spending Heavily To Defeat State GMO Food Labeling Votes | Right-to-know | Business Economy & Business GMOs Organic Market Classifieds

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“Many consumers will likely be surprised to learn that owners and management of some of their favorite organic and natural brands are fighting against the right of consumers to know what is in their food,” says Mark Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group. “We want to spotlight this issue so that consumers can vote in the marketplace for manufacturers and brands that reflect their personal values.”

Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food ingredients (commonly called GMOs — standing for genetically modified organisms) at the state level is viewed as a watershed event by many industry observers, given the prolonged inaction at the federal level. Earlier this year Vermont passed a state law requiring GMO food ingredient labeling, and the states of Connecticut and Maine have adopted similar legislation that will take effect when other neighboring states pass such laws.

Last year a state GMO food labeling initiative was narrowly defeated in Washington by a 51-49 percent margin. In California in 2012, a GMO food labeling initiative lost by a similarly slim margin. Biotech interests spent close to $50 million opposing the initiatives in California and Washington. And the GMA and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), another trade-lobby group, are now suing Vermont over its legislatively adopted food labeling law.

At the national level, Monsanto, its biotech allies, and the GMA in particular, have been credited for bottlenecking action on a federal law although they have recently rallied behind a new proposal that would outlaw state GMO food labeling laws while permitting “voluntary” labeling by companies of such ingredients (voluntary labeling is already being allowed by the FDA).

More than 60 countries around the world require the labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients. “Interestingly, in Europe where GMO labeling is required, consumers overwhelming choose to buy organic and non-GMO products,” said Kastel. “The industrial food lobby is fully cognizant of the European experience and what’s at stake — that’s why they’re fighting like hell against these grassroots efforts in states like Colorado and Oregon.”

North America’s largest independent organic breakfast foods manufacturer, Nature’s Path, has been actively promoting and funding a “yes” vote. “Nature’s Path USA has supported citizens’ fundamental right to know if their food contains GMOs, with a simple label declaration. Then they can choose whether or not they want to buy it,” says Arran Stephens, the company’s CEO and cofounder.

“One of many great qualities of organic agriculture is in the superior taste and higher nutrient profile — the natural result of a farming system that emphasizes long term soil fertility, farm family security and non-toxic ecological balance,” Stephens added.

Other prominent commercial backers of state citizen initiatives, viewed as heroes in the organic movement, include Dr. Bronner’s and Bob’s Red Mill.

“As a lover of science and as an activist, it’s clear to me that labeling genetically engineered food just makes sense. Consumers have a right to know whether the food they’re eating has been genetically engineered to withstand huge amounts of pesticide that contaminates our food, wreaks havoc in the environment and ends up on our dinner plates,” says the company’s CEO David Bronner, describing why the company has donated $715,500 to the state initiative campaigns.

Additional organizations throwing their financial weight behind the consumer’s right to know include the Organic Consumer’s Fund, Food Democracy Action and and Presence Marketing.

The biggest single donor to the “NO” vote is biotech giant Monsanto, having poured more than $6.3 million into the state campaigns. Pepsi has donated $2 million and General Mills has donated more than $1.5 million. Other heavyweight opponents include Kraft, Dow AgroSciences, J.M. Smucker, Land O’ Lakes and ConAgra.

All told, opponents of the consumers’ right-to-know what is in their food have already raised more than $15.1 million, while supporters of the state initiatives have gathered nearly $3.3 million.

“We doubt if loyal customers of Naked Juice (PepsiCo), Dagoba chocolate (Hershey’s) RW Knutson or Santa Cruz juices (Smuckers) realize that their corporate parents are taking the profits from their patronage and stabbing them in the back by investing to defeat GMO labeling on food packages,” the Cornucopia’s Kastel lamented.

“Consumers are increasingly interested in ‘voting with their forks,’ and many want to support companies that share their values,” notes Jason Cole, a researcher for Cornucopia who compiled the data for the infographic. “We hope the information we are providing on corporate involvement with the upcoming votes on food labeling will help consumers make informed choices in grocery store aisles.”

Supporters of Measure 92, the GMO food labeling initiative in Oregon, have raised $2.96 million with opponents of the initiative collecting $5.41 million according to state records.

In Colorado, supporters of Proposition 105, the GMO food labeling initiative, have raised $320,000 while opponents of the initiative have collected $9.7 million.

Data for the campaign contributions was gathered from appropriate state regulatory agencies.

The Cornucopia Institute’s board of directors has formally endorsed the Oregon state initiative (they have yet to meet and take action regarding the Colorado initiative).

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